The Razer BlackWidow keyboard line has now gone through 2 iterations and almost 7 separate models. While it is the only mechanical keyboard that Razer currently offers, it’s also one of the most well made out of their entire line. Some of the changes to the 2012 version include an expanded anti-ghosting set of keys, faster polling rate, and a branded upgrade to the back lighting.
Let's start with ghosting. When you press multiple keys at the same time on a standard keyboard, the computer can read only one key at a time. You can try it on almost any keyboard and see the limitations right away. Hold down two keys, only one survives. During gaming you might be strafing in a first person shooter using WSAD or queuing actions on the number keys in World of Warcraft.
The most extreme example is of course when a player is participating in a RTS game like StarCraft where the number of key inputs per second can often overlap one another. In these situations you will press multiple keys at the same time. The anti-ghosting technology has been extended to 10 simultaneous key presses, which means the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate can discern between 10 individual fingers/keys when you've got them all pressed down at the same instance.
A faster polling rate works on a similar principle. If you're hands are flying over the keyboard at an amazing rate the faster the polling means that the keyboard is checking to see whether you've pressed a particular key that much more quickly. These two performance features work in tandem to make sure you're gaming at zero deficiency.
The back lighting on the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate has also been upgraded. Now the keyboard lighting features Razer's distinctive green glow and all of the keys have been set in a neon green trench. The difference when the keyboard is at its brightest is instantly noticeable. The new Blackwidow is much brighter and the markings on the keys are more easily discernible.
Differences aside there are other attributes that make the BlackWidow line a desirable gaming keyboard. It is very solidly built, all of the sealing points and screw holes are tightened well. I don't toss my electronics around, but I feel if I were to drop the BlackWidow a few times it could easily handle the disturbance.
It connects to the computer using two USB connectors which feed its data and the power for its lighting. Microphone and headphone cables also route up the main connector and into the keyboard itself. The two cables feed to two jacks on the back of the keyboard that are clearly labeled and color-coded. All of the cables are wrapped in fabric to reduce tangling and keep things looking new long after you purchase them.
I used the keyboard in shooters, role-playing games, MMOs and even for typing and was pleased with its overall use. Once I began typing up more than a paragraph though I longed to use a simple flattened key keyboard for speed and efficiency. The BlackWidow definitely has a solid clunk to its key presses that is very satisfying when playing action games or shooters. They make a significant amount of noise though so don't try and use it in a quite area or you're likely to bother anyone sleeping or reading peacefully. I have multiple keyboards at home and I would be comfortable replacing most of them with the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate. It is an amazingly solid piece of mechanical technology with performance minded features at its heart, it looks sharp in the dark too!